Determined students make ‘critical’ donation to Sault College food bank
‘We have to be willing to help others, because you never know when you may be in that situation’: Group meets ‘crazy’ goal by collecting 2,700 canned goods and non-perishables
A small group of first-year Sault College students is making a big difference at their school.
As food insecurity continues to impact many in the post-secondary stream — particularly international students — 21-year-old Goulais resident Haley Moskal felt she needed to help.
“I never noticed this many students were struggling,” she said. “I really didn’t see it my whole life until I went to Sault College and noticed people in my classes were having trouble.”
Working alongside her Fitness and Health classmates Joshua Villeneuve, Michael Angelo Realista, Ethan Murphy, and Paras Saini, Moskal set an adventurous goal to donate 2,023 cans and non-perishables to the Sault College Students’ Union food bank.
Now in its own building on the F-lot parking side of the college behind Odeno, the self-serve food bank aids well over 200 students every week.
“Some people thought we were crazy because that’s obviously a big goal,” she said. “But I like to set high goals, and the team was in for it. We have to be willing to help others, because you never know when you may be in that situation.”
Earlier this month, Moskal and her team spent three days at Timberland General Store in Goulais collecting cash and canned food. Combining those efforts with some generous funds they received from other small businesses, the young group managed to purchase and collect 2,714 cans and other goods.
“We were surprised to see how many people actually donated,” Villeneuve said. “They were very generous. A lot of people were shocked we collected that much, including the food bank.”
“The food bank said it’s the biggest donation they’ve had,” Moskal added. “They did a canned food drive themselves, and they said we got the same amount as what they did – and they did theirs longer than ours. It felt really good.”
In addition to food, the group purchased and donated feminine and oral hygiene products, as well as gloves, hats and mitts.
“A lot of people who go to the school aren’t from Canada originally, so they don’t know much about the cold,” Moskal said. “It was important for us to get those items too.”
As an international student himself, Michael Angelo Realista says he has witnessed firsthand how difficult it can be for newcomers to afford basic necessities like food, which is why he was eager to help out this month.
“It can be tough for some of the international students to get a job right away,” he said. “The number of students coming is large. There are so many struggling right now, especially the newcomers.”
“They pay so much money to be here, so this is really helpful for them,” Villeneuve added.
The charitable students transported three vehicle loads worth of non-perishables to a team of grateful volunteers at Sault College’s food bank last week.
In a letter recently issued to the classmates, the school’s student union expressed their immense gratitude for their efforts.
“This has made an indelible impression on our organization and the lives of the students we serve,” the letter reads. “The generous amount of non-perishable food items and toiletries will be critical in our efforts to eliminate hunger and deliver food to Sault College students who are in need.”
Grateful for the community’s support in helping her team smash their initial goal, Moskal says she would be open to the idea of doing a similar initiative again next year.
“Helping people just feels amazing,” she said. “Especially since we’re getting into Christmas, it’s a hard time of year for a lot of people; a lot of stress and worry. But people’s bellies will be full now.”
“Before coming to Canada, I did some research and always see that people here are so kind and generous,” Realista added. “But to see it here in person is really cool.”